LG UF950T Ultra HD TV: Australian Review

Thinking of renovating your house? Well, we have a hot DIY tip for you — shore up the walls in your living room, because you're going to be installing a massive TV. LG's top of the line UF950T starts at 55 inches, there's a 65-incher in the middle, but if you want to go all out you can pick up a 79-inch monster. All this TV doesn't come cheap though, so prepare to open your wallet.

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What Is It?

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 55-, 65-, 79-inch
  • Resolution: 3840x2160 pixels
  • Smart TV: Yes, WebOS 2.0
  • Connectivity: 4x HDMI, 3x USB
  • Wi-Fi: Yes

The UF950T is a set of three LED-backlit, super-slim LED TVs from LG — a $4699 55-inch, a $6499 65-inch, or a $12999 79-inch panel. As you might have guessed from the exorbitant price tag, it's LG's absolute top of the line TV range for 2015, and is the only one to use the company's brand new ColourPrime LED backlighting tech.

ColourPrime is LG's latest screen backlighting tech, promising a 30 per cent wider colour gamut versus a regular LED backlight — and that means both more vibrant and more saturated colours at the extreme edges of the colour spectrum. As we've seen on other quantum dot and wide-gamut LED-lit televisions, the UF950T isn't necessarily thicker because of its new lighting technology In fact, it's very thin, because all those LEDs are situated on the edges of the LED sheet rather than behind it, and distribute their light across the entire LCD through a series of reflective channels.

The UF950T has four HDMI 2.0 ports — capable of a maximum resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, the Ultra HD standard, at up to 60 frames per second — arranged across the side and base of its central rear I/O panel. On the side you'll also find three USB 2.0 ports, all of which will power an external hard drive, flash drive, or other I/O device like a keyboard or mouse. There's also a smattering of legacy audio/video inputs, as well as dual FreeviewPlus-certified HbbTV digital TV tuners. It's worth mentioning that the UF950T has excellent speakers for a TV despite its small size — a 4.2-channel 60-Watt system in the 55- and 65-inch screens, and a 2.1-channel 60-Watt system in the 79-incher.

Running the latest iteration of LG's WebOS — we're up to WebOS 2.0 now — the UF950T has an appropriately high end smart TV interface and line-up of integrated apps to keep any video-on-demand nut happy. You'll find Netflix, Quickflix, ABC iView, SBS On Demand, YouTube and the like, as well as a bunch of games that can be controlled with the TV's motion-sensitive Magic Remote. Mixed media junkies should be happy with the TV's Plex and Spotify apps, too — both have layouts optimised to take most advantage of WebOS's grid-based interface, which works perfectly well with either the remote's five-way directional pad or the mouse-esque movement of waving around the Magic Remote.

What's It Good At?

This is a beautiful TV, whether it's powered or not. Leave it switched off and you'll find a stunning, shiny metal-and-glass monolith — an edge-to-edge single sheet of glass covering the LG UF950T's front, surrounded by a thin metal band that's thicker at the base to accommodate the television's downward-firing speaker system. Apart from the small, central LG logo and an equally small Ultra HD tag on the TV's right, there's hardly any branding to be seen. The UF950T has a flat screen, but its stand curves outward at its edges and actually recreates a bit of the curved TV experience that I loved on the EC970T.

But turn it on and that's when the real magic happens. The UF950T is no OLED TV, it's no plasma, but the LED backlight it uses for its 3840x2160 pixel Ultra HD LCD panel is LG's first ColourPrime one, and that means it's the company's first to use quantum dots to create a wide-gamut red-green-blue LED — and the end result is a display that can show an absolutely massive range of colours. Turn on some appropriately high resolution, appropriately high detail and colourful video content and you'll see that the UF950T is just about the best LCD TV ever built — the colours that it can produce put non-ColourPrime, non-quantum-dot competitors to shame.

Being an Ultra HD TV and being so versatile in its colour and contrast display abilities, the UF950T can show off an incredible amount of detail when you're feeding high quality content. That means it's only at its best when you're watching a nice high quality Blu-ray movie at least, and ideally an Ultra HD one. The UF950T does a great job of upscaling 1080p video to suit its native display resolution — there's no problem there. It's less adroit with video less than 720p — something you're not likely to be watching unless it's streamed from YouTube, unless you're unlucky enough to be watching a non-HD digital TV channel.

For that reason, I'd really suggest that to make the best of this TV, you get yourself a great internet connection. Streaming Netflix and YouTube at 4K resolution — for the videos that support it, obviously — looks great, as does high-frame-rate 1080p and 1440p video. It's hard to go past a USB flash drive or portable hard drive filled with high-resolution video. It's worth mentioning, too, that bit-rate is just as important as outright resolution, and that's why a good Blu-ray can look better than the best of the best Ultra HD stream from Netflix, which is very compressed.

LG has re-jigged its WebOS interface a little in the 2015 television line-up, and as such in version 2.0 it's somewhat more streamlined and even easier to use than the original. The big difference is how quick it is to start up from a cold boot; on old TVs you'd have to wait a minute before the Wi-Fi network connected, before you could load an app from the drawer, or before you could jump into the settings to adjust something. You can also add specific live TV channels to the app bar, which is great for quickly switching between your favourites. It works very well now. And, as a result, you get direct access to Netflix, amongst the suite of other top-tier streaming video on demand apps like ABC iView and SBS on Demand. Every app has been handled very well, actually; the interface is simple and straightforward and easy to understand. The Web browser is even usable.

What's It Not Good At?

This is an expensive TV. There's absolutely no getting around that. This is one of the best TVs you can buy, and if you want the biggest of the best, you'll be paying $12999 for the privilege. That's a lot of money, even though it's a fair bit cheaper than the 84-inch $25000 Ultra HD TVs that we've been seeing in the last couple of years. The price tags of the $6599 65-inch (tested) and the $5499 55-inch come progressively more into the realm of, y'know, reality, but even amongst its peers the UF950T is an expensive television. At the 55-inch size I think there's better, cheaper options available like the excellent $3500 55EC930T OLED TV.

In the 65-inch and 79-inch sizes, though, the LG UF950T starts to make a mark for itself. Even then it's hard to justify such a significant price increase compared to already-good mid-range models whether they're Ultra HD or Full HD 1080p; you'll really have to take advantage of the UF950T's ColourPrime backlight and its 4K native resolution — and watch a lot of Blu-rays and Ultra HD Netflix and YouTube — to justify the big premium that it carries. This isn't the kind of TV you're going to buy to stick in the kid's room — it has to be the centrepiece of your living space or dedicated cinema room, and you should be showing it off to everyone that comes around to make them jealous.

One of my main complaints about the UF950T, oddly enough, is the fact that it isn't curved. I know curved TVs aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I think when you're paying five figures for a massive screen, you should reasonably expect it to be an architectural and design masterpiece — and part of that comes from the curve. I've recently changed to a curved TV at home, and it's definitely more impressive — and more of a conversation starter — when it's switched off. If the UF950T was curved, it would be more premium and fancy and it'd be another selling point for an already impressive TV. The stand, too, is as if LG thought it might be thinking about making the UF950T a curved screen but decided against it at the last moment.

On a tangent to the last criticism, I think we should stop worrying about TVs being curved for the express purpose of its image quality. Even the curviest TV out there still looks pretty damn good when you're watching it straight on, and if it's a large enough TV — like the 65- or 79-inch UF950T, for example — then you can still have a massive crowd of friends over without someone having to sit off to the side and not being able to properly view the screen. I definitely don't think it adds anything quantifiable in immersiveness or whatever buzzword might be thrown at you, but it's not a bad thing. (Cue the angry emails.)

Should You Buy It?

LG UF950T Ultra HD TV
89

Price: from $4699

Like
  • WebOS 2.0 is great.
  • Excellent range of apps.
  • Good picture quality.
Don't Like
  • It's still a LCD panel.
  • Not curved.
  • It's so expensive.

Should you buy this TV? Yes. Of course you should, it's amazing... But. The only real problem with the $4699-plus LG UF950T is its price tag. You're paying a premium for a top of the line TV, for the new technologies it includes and for the incredible thinness of its chassis. That's not a surprise. The issue you can reasonably raise is that you'll be able to find a bunch of TVs, in LG's own range and from other brands, that are nearly as good while not being quite as expensive.

But with that said, there's no real reason not to recommend the LG UF950T if you can afford the asking price or if you can find it on a deep enough discount. It's an amazing television for watching high definition content, it's beautifully and simply designed — even if it isn't curved — and its smart TV interface is quick to operate and has all the major local streaming apps on board.

In a way, it's hard to get really excited about an LED TV after experiencing amazing OLED and plasma TVs for the last few years. But the LG UF950T is the current state of the art, for its combination of smarts and design and beautiful picture quality, and I think it's that that goes a long way to justifying its similarly top of the line price.

If I had a big budget to play with and I needed an equally big TV, the UF950T would be right up the top of my list.

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